Iran, world powers fail to settle nuclear dispute
MOSCOW, (Reuters) – World powers and Iran failed to secure a breakthrough at talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme yesterday and set no date for more political negotiations, despite the threat of a new Middle East conflict if diplomacy collapses.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said after two days of talks in Moscow that significant differences remained and the two sides had agreed only on a technical follow-up meeting in Istanbul on July 3.
A deal had not been widely expected and although experts said the sides were far apart, they welcomed the fact talks had at least not broken down completely.
If talks do eventually collapse, financial markets could be hit by fears of war and of higher oil prices because Israel has threatened to attack Iranian nuclear sites to prevent Tehran getting the bomb.
Tehran denies any such aim and says its nuclear programme is purely for non-military purposes.
“We set out our respective positions in what were detailed, tough and frank exchanges,” Ashton, who led a six-power delegation at the talks, told reporters. “We have begun to tackle critical issues. However, it remains clear that there are significant gaps between the substance of the two positions.”
She added: “The choice is Iran’s. We expect Iran to decide whether it is willing to make diplomacy work to focus on concrete confidence-building steps, and to address the concerns of the international community.”
Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, told a separate news conference that he hoped a date would be agreed for new political talks after the Istanbul meeting, which will address unspecified technical details.